We always love it when we find a true watering hole. By that I mean a real bar that doesn’t pass itself off as a bar/restaurant. You can pick up a bag of chips at The Nag’s Head, but it doesn’t serve food. Regulars know that they can bring in pizza, sandwiches, Chinese takeout, whatever suits their fancy.
You can tell from the signs that Guinness is a big deal, and owner Barney Finnegan confirms it. Barney is a friendly Irish barkeep, who came over from Dublin “30-odd” years ago to marry the woman he’s still happily married to. He acquired the bar on Nov. 12, almost two decades ago. The name comes from a bar he frequented in Dublin.
“We have a well-kept line,” Barney reports. This may not mean much to non-beer-drinkers. But if you love beer, and especially draft beer, it means a lot. He’s talking about the line that brings the beer from the kegs to the bar. If it’s not “well-kept,” the beer can taste flat and stale. Worse, it can even make you sick.
That’s why some beer imbibers drink only bottled beer. So, if you love draft, and you want to be sure you’re getting a fresh, lively brew, drop into The Nag’s Head.
As you can see from the archival picture on this page, back in the day, the address was home to a butcher. The bar has maintained the original look and feel.
Out back, there’s a typical Hoboken terrace, small and shady, with a few horse hitching posts, ivy, and a fence. It’s pretty to look at, but it’s not part of the bar. No sitting outside, even in summer.
Along the walls are typical beer signs and a few tavern maxims like “When I die, bury me under the pub” and “Nothing like a stout.”
The Nag’s Head has a broad clientele. There are plenty of sports on the eight flat-screen TVs. When I was there a hockey game was on. On weekends, of course, there are more offerings, including American football and what Americans call soccer, along with every other seasonal sport.
Barney Finnegan, a transplanted Dubliner, loves Hoboken. He’s seen a lot of changes in three decades but says, “It’s a great town and a safe town.”—Kate Rounds
The Nag’s Head
359 First St.